20+ Questions with the CinC

(Posted on behalf of President Beckett.)

I realized we hadn’t yet seen a 20 Questions with our CINC and wanted to make sure we had a chance to get to know her a little better.

Age, Sex, Location?
36, F, Oklahoma City

When did you first join FedSpace?
In November 2005 with my original PC, Valeria Lorien. I was first assigned to the USS Comet, but transferred to the faster-paced Gettysburg after two months, where I stayed for four years playing both Val and later Sevala.

What brought you to FedSpace?
I honestly don’t remember what exactly put me in the mood to search Google for a Star Trek RPG, but when I did, I chose FedSpace out of all the others I found. I loved the forum style posting, which made things easier to follow. Most RPGers I found were PBM. FedSpace also seemed better organized, and I was impressed with the quality writing of its players.

Tell me a little about the process of developing your character.
My latest PC, Adaran 225, was developed with some very specific goals in mind. Since I was creating hir to be CO of a special ops vessel, I wanted hir history to reflect the specialized training needed for the position, which meant s/he needed a more traditional military background than the average Star Fleet officer. I also wanted hir to be the type that pushes the rules though. S/he’s my fifth PC, counting my Alts, so I was very aware of what I enjoyed doing on the site. I like action based plots, and I like injecting humor into my writing. I wanted Adaran to be the best of both those worlds.

While I could have given hir the rank of Commodore, I didn’t feel I’d enjoy playing the type of character that would be expected of a flag officer, at least not as my Main PC. I’d have Admiral Kirk Syndrome, feeling constrained by the job instead of doing the things that I loved. Plus I wanted a frigate. It was the perfect vessel for special ops, and flag officers wouldn’t typically be given such a small vessel, so I chose to play Adaran at a lower rank. I wanted hir to be an active CO and to be able to get away with things that flag officers wouldn’t be allowed to do. I didn’t want hir to be sitting in the center chair all the time. I wanted hir to be in the middle of the action. And it’s turned out that Captain is the perfect rank for hir. I couldn’t imagine hir at any other.

I also wanted to play a character that was rather unique and different — something that hadn’t been played on the site before. The idea of roleplaying a Hermat from the New Frontier series of books was one I’d had for a while. It thought it would be interesting and challenging to explore a character without very different ideas on gender, and it has been. It also provides a lot of amusement watching how other characters deal with Adaran’s ambiguity. Also, the idea of playing a predatory species fit in with how I envisioned the character — as an aggressive soldier who enjoys the hunt.

Do you think it is easier or more difficult to play someone based on yourself?
If I’d play someone based on myself, they’d have been kicked out of Star Fleet long ago. I’m just not the type who’d do well in a service environment. So for me the answer would be “more difficult.” That doesn’t mean I don’t interject parts of myself into characters, but none of them are completely me. Adaran and T’Kir are probably the closest to me of any characters I’ve done. They’re both characters that tend to push the limits, and that’s how I am.

So far, what is your favorite part about being a member of FedSpace?
I think my favorite part is being a CO. I love being a CO, and it really helps that I have an excellent crew. I enjoy giving them interesting situations to react to or important tasks to do and watching how they handle them, both in-game and out. I have more fun as a CO, which includes GMing my crew, than anything else. Yes, there’s a whole lot of work involved and sometimes it can be a headache, but it’s worth it when I read a crew post and it makes me laugh or impresses me with its execution.

If you were president for a day, what would you change?
I’d fire that bum of a VP we have.. what’s his name… Graystone, I think.

Just kidding. Really, it’s hard to answer that since I already work with the President in making changes to the site.

What makes a good Ship/Station?
I think the most important thing in making a ship successful is an active and strong command team. I’ve seen it time and time again during my years on FedSpace — ships with a strong CO and FO, especially the CO, are the ones that thrive and do well. Ships without an effective command team wither and eventually die. COs and FOs set the pace. If they care about their ships and put out their best effort, they inspire their crew to do so as well. As CinC, one of the main problems I’ve been working on over the past few months is how to help COs and FOs improve their weak points. In the past, we’ve never really had a way to measure or gauge command staff, and we’re moving towards a system of formal evaluations to change that.

What do you spend your time outside of FedSpace doing?
Right now, I’m working on a long-term creative project, putting to use my degree in film studies and my long-dormant artistic skills. It’s a part-time job and takes up a lot of time and energy. When I get a chance to break from it, I usually head outdoors if the weather’s nice. Oh, and then there’s my full-time job, but considering that I do 90% of my FedSpace work while there I don’t really consider it as “outside” of FedSpace.

What is your favourite Star Trek series?
The original series. I grew up with watching it on TV every day after school, and it shaped how I think about Star Trek. Kirk, Spock and McCoy are great characters, and I enjoyed watching them develop over the 20+ years that they were together. I’ve always preferred character driven stories to those that are plot driven. I also enjoy DS9 for the same reason.

Do you have a favorite line or phrase from either a show or movie?
“Brain and Brain! What is Brain?” I don’t know why, but that line from “Spock’s Brain” is the first thing that popped into my head. That should probably scare me.

If you watched the movies, which one was your favorite?
The Wrath of Khan. Not only is the story is excellent, but it really allows the actors a chance to explore their characters’ inner worlds, particularly their vulnerabilities. Again, it’s the character driven elements of the story that make it enjoyable to me. Plus, you can’t do better than having both William Shatner and Ricardo Montalban hamming it up together on screen.

What piece of Star Trek Technology would you most like to see today?
The replicator. Free two-day shipping from Amazon Prime is just not fast enough for me anymore when I want my stuff.

What was it about Star Trek that made you fall in love with the show?
That’s very hard to say, as I’ve been watching it since before I can remember. It’s pretty much always been something that interests me. I’m not a Trekkie by any means though. I enjoy watching the shows and reading some of the books, but I’ve never been to a convention, never bought a collectible, or anything else that would mark me as a hardcore fan. I’ve just always found it to be a quality show, for the most part, with a very interesting view of the future.

If you could name your own ship, what would you name it and why?
Well, I was lucky enough to actually have the chance to name my own ship, the Columbia. It’s a name with a lot of history, both real life and Trek. It was the name of a space shuttle, the name of the Apollo 11 lunar command module, and the name of the first ship under the U.S. flag to sail around the world, Plus it was the name of the second NX ship, and the name of the lost vessel in the original Star Trek pilot. You can’t beat that for meaning and symbolism.

What FedSpace character would you most like to meet in real life?
Hmm, that’s hard to say. Aside from my own characters, it would probably have to be Tess Nautilique. She’s the character I’ve had the most involvement with in-game over the years. Melissa and I have played together as Tess and T’Kir for over four years now, three of them with the characters married, so I’ve gotten to know Tess rather well. She’s smart, beautiful and sexy, and I’d probably fall in love with her if she were real.

If you could list one pet-peeve about your fellow players, what would it be?
It really bothers me when people take unannounced LOAs and leave their fellow players hanging. I can understand genuine emergencies, such as having gone into the hospital, or a family member has died, but for most cases there’s no excuse for not sending an email or posting that you need time off. It takes about two minutes to send an email to someone. It’s just common courtesy.

Do you feel there is any disconnect between you and other players based on geographical location?
No, not really. I’ve never had any problems based on being in a different location from someone else. My FO lives in England. I have two DHs that live in South Africa, another in Scotland, and I have another DH who goes to school in the Cayman Islands, so I have crew spread out all over the world. We all get along and work together quite well. I’ve also had the chance to meet several players in person, both active and past members, some of them multiple times. I think the enjoyment of FedSpace and the community it creates surpasses any geographical differences we all might have.

What is in your FedSpace future, for yourself and for your character?
I hope to continue serving the site as CinC for many years to come. As for my character, it’s hard to say. I have a habit of changing PCs often, but I don’t have any plans to stop playing Adaran anytime soon. I enjoy playing hir too much right now, and there’s still a lot of room to explore hir character. I’ll probably always keep hir as a Captain though. That’s just where s/he best fits. Hir growth will be through character development rather than rank progression.

If there was one thing you would want everyone to know about you, what would that be?
That unlike my characters, I’m sane. Most of the time anyway.

Can you tell us how you became CINC?
It was rather a long, roundabout process. I became part of the site admin team about a year or so before taking on the CinC role. FAdm Benestead had become unable to take an active part as an admin, and President Beckett asked me to step up and become part of the senior team to fill the hole left by his departure. I was honored to have the chance to help guide the site, so I accepted. I worked behind the scenes in that role for quite some time until Benestead decided to officially retire. His public role as CinC then fell to me. Taking on the job publicly gave me the opportunity to be even more involved in the site, and I enjoy the role for that reason, despite the extra work it brings.

How do you define your position? What are your responsibilities?
I define my position as being responsible for the administrative side of FedSpace. That involves not only doing points each month but many other things as well. I oversee promotions, medals, transfers and disciplinary action, and have the final say on how those are handled. I work with returning players to help place them back onto the site, and I help existing players when they have issues that need attention. I also work directly with the fleet commanders to ensure that everything is running smoothly on each ship. There are a lot of other things I do as well that are less specific. Basically, I’m the top link in the chain of command for administrative matters, and I direct policy in that regard.

I also work with Perry when administrative and creative matters cross. He leads the creative side of FedSpace, and our areas of influence can quite often be the same. Creating new ships, organizing the fleet, and other similar matters both require creative and administrative input.

How has your perception of the site changed since becoming CINC?
It’s made me aware of the complexity of getting things done and appreciative of what goes into making FedSpace a success. As a general player, you tend to wonder why problems don’t get solved as soon as they arise, but it’s far more complicated than just making a quick decision and carrying it out. There are a number of levels to consider in each decision made, and many of those levels are ones which a general member would be unaware of. There’s also a great deal of work that goes into keeping FedSpace running. For me, it’s a part-time job, and sometimes a full-time job, on top of my real life work.

How do you work with the President and VP? How do the 3 of you make decisions on the site?
It mostly begins with one of us having an idea or encountering a problem and starting an email chain to address it. We then hash it out over a period of days or even months until we come to a final agreement. It’s actually rather informal. We don’t always see eye to eye on everything, but we can always find a compromise on those issue where we disagree, and if need be, we bring in someone else who’s close to the issue and can provide another voice.

I think some people feel the process is too secretive. Major decisions can’t be made, though, by putting it to a general vote of the site, especially when they involve creative matters or personnel issues. Those things have to be kept confidential. And trying to get 100 players to agree on anything is impossible. As in any organization, there has to be a group of people who have both the experience and the information necessary to make decisions. Decisions aren’t made in a vacuum though. A great deal of consideration is given to every issue, and I especially try to take the players standpoint when voicing my opinions.

What’s the best part of being CINC?
Being able to solve problems for players, even if it’s the little problems. If I can do something to help better a player’s experience on the site, that’s what matters. That’s what my job is.

What’s the worst part of being CINC?
Having my admin duties take away from the time I have to post. I used to be very active with a number of characters. I simply can’t do that anymore. There are some days when I don’t even have time to post because my inbox is full or I have admin matters that need my attention. I’ve had to drastically cut back on my in-game involvement.

Some members have expressed concerns that the site admins are unapproachable. How would you address that?
Anyone who’s ever interacted with me out-of-game knows that I’m easily approachable. I’m always happy to answer questions or help sort out problems, and I listen to any ideas that are sent my way. I think that if anyone believes the admins are unapproachable, they just haven’t tried approaching us yet. I feel that part of this perception comes from newer players being somewhat intimidated by more experienced players. I remember when I first started on the site, I was nervous about speaking up as well, especially to my CO, who was also the CinC at that time. People just naturally have the perception that those in positions of authority are on a different level than they are, but that’s not necessarily true. FS Admins are players too, and everyone from the newest midshipman on up should feel free to approach us with issues or problems just as they would any other player.

Is there anything else you want us to know about the CINC?
I feel that an important part of the job is being the players’ advocate. Whenever a rule change is being considered or a new creative direction discussed, I always try to look at it from the viewpoint of the player. How would it affect players? And how would it make me feel if I was a junior officer instead of CinC? Not everything that seems good from an administrative standpoint is ultimately good for players, and it’s important to keep that in mind when I make a decision.

Thanks for your time!

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